eric decker
by Stephen Garner
eric decker
eric decker for vince camuto

Authentic Brands Group has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase a majority stake in the intellectual property of the Camuto Group’s proprietary brands in partnership with North American footwear and accessories retailer DSW. This acquisition enhances ABG’s portfolio by significantly growing the company’s stake in the footwear and accessories market and increasing its brands’ collective value to more than $8.3 billion in annual retail sales.

As part of the agreement, ABG will partner with DSW Inc. to acquire the intellectual property of Camuto Group’s proprietary brands, taking the majority stake of 60 percent and DSW Inc. taking the balance of 40 percent. Brands include Vince Camuto, Louise et Cie, Sole Society, Enzo Angiolini, and others. The partnership will focus on licensing the brands across existing lines in footwear, handbags and jewelry, and new category development with a focus on building out each brand’s lifestyle offerings.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Camuto Group to the ABG family and forge a long-term relationship with DSW,” said Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of Authentic Brands Group. “This strategic arrangement preserves the Camuto Group operation, which will continue to service its current footwear partners, and provides a robust infrastructure for new brands and growth. In addition, our partnership with DSW links ABG to a footwear authority whose sourcing and manufacturing expertise will extend across our portfolio.”

Founded in 2001, the Camuto Group is a legendary footwear and accessories organization best known for the eponymous Vince Camuto brand. Today, Vince Camuto comprises key categories including footwear, fragrance, apparel, handbags and accessories and can be found in over 8,000 retail locations including department stores and specialty accounts.

With this move, ABG takes a page from its acquisition playbook for Aéropostale and Nautica, creating a similar structure that secures a dedicated operating partner in footwear. ABG’s proven know-how in brand building, marketing and business development, combined with the retail, e-commerce and wholesale expertise of DSW Inc., provide a strong foundation for long-term growth.

“The purchase of the Camuto Group operation transforms DSW Inc. into one of the largest footwear franchises in North America. Our new design and sourcing capabilities create opportunities for us to pursue market share and become integral to more consumer purchase decisions,” added Roger Rawlins, chief executive officer of DSW. “In addition to the licensing benefits of our strategic partnership with ABG, this acquisition allows DSW Inc. to harness Camuto Group’s product development and wholesale capabilities while supporting its growth as a global lifestyle brand.”

“The partnership with DSW and ABG creates an unmatched opportunity for the Camuto Group to expand the platform for our leading lifestyle brands,” said Alex Del Cielo, chief executive officer of Camuto Group. “By leveraging DSW’s resources, we will strengthen our wholesale business and bring to market an exciting and world-class, direct-to-consumer experience that will grow our brand equity and customer demand across additional points of sale. I believe our founder Vince Camuto would be as excited about the transaction as we are and view the opportunity as a way to extend the company’s reach and realize his vision.”

Under a separately negotiated agreement, ABG will purchase the intellectual property of the Bernard Chaus Inc. (BCI) brands in partnership with Ariel Chaus, the current chief executive officer and former owner of BCI. Brands include the fashion and contemporary women’s apparel labels 1.STATE, CeCe, and Chaus. Ariel Chaus will also repurchase the BCI business from Camuto Group and become the core women’s apparel licensing partner for Vince Camuto. Together, ABG and BCI will galvanize the brands’ growth strategies and launch an elevated women’s sportswear platform that will service better department stores around the world.